7 Steps to Growing Outstanding Potatoes!

potato wow

Potatoes are delicious baked, mashed, fried, roasted, and steamed, whatever way you like. They are versatile in a ton of dishes and can be seasoned a million different ways as well. They are also packed with nutrition. Potatoes are high in vitamin C and potassium and they provide a good amount of fiber and iron. I like potatoes and have a very hard time finding potatoes I can eat.

I have multiple chemical sensitivities and have moderate to severe reactions to many chemicals that are added to food. Potatoes are one of the most treated foods in our food supply. I react severely to formaldehyde and guess what growers douse store bought potatoes in? You guessed it, formaldehyde. Why would growers do this? Formaldehyde is used in the treatment and prevention of potato scab which is a fungus that attacks potatoes. Potatoes grown in a mono-crop setting are particularly vulnerable to scab.


We Americans love our perfect looking produce and if growers didn’t spray chemicals on our potatoes, they wouldn’t look as great in the stores when we buy them. Chemicals are used on the tubers before they are planted, other chemicals are sprayed on the sprouts, and even more chemicals are used to kill the potato vines prior to harvesting them. Then, you guessed it, potatoes are sprayed with more chemicals after harvest so they won’t sprout and will be able to travel long distances to our groceries for us to buy them, and so we can store them at home. Many of the shameful acts committed against our food supply are due to our demands for perfect looking food.

In America, tons and tons of fresh produce is thrown away before it is even prepared for market. Why? Because it’s not cute enough for someone to buy it. We want perfectly shaped, colored, and sized foods. Once it gets to the market, more of it is thrown away and then finally, at home we throw even more of it away. Eventually, we are throwing away over 40% of all food produced. All of the food we are throwing away could feed all the hungry people. Click here to learn more about food waste in the U.S.

After washed and peeled, potatoes still contain a lot of chemical residue. Click here to read all about it.

According to OnlyOrganic.org, potatoes are treated with the following:      

— Six known or probable carcinogens

— 12 suspected hormone disruptors

— Seven neurotoxins

— Six developmental or reproductive toxins

— Nine honeybee toxins

Click here to see a list of what chemicals they are.

After doing some research on why potatoes were causing me severe violent reactions, I realized even if the potatoes weren’t making me sick, I wouldn’t want to be eating them anyway, and I sure as the world don’t want my babies eating them. I am responsible for growing healthy kids. It’s my job to provide them with safe food. I feel that God has shown me the knowledge and now I am required to use it to better the lives of the people I love.

My concern with the food supply is a big reason we started such a big garden at Little Sprouts. Organic potatoes are very hard to come by where in live in Oklahoma. I can find them at my local store occasionally, but other than that, I just don’t eat potatoes or serve them to my kids unless we grow them ourselves.

Growing potatoes is fun! You get to take big seed potatoes and cut them in chunks and plant them. They are easy for the kids to handle and bury in the soft earth. There is just one problem…we weren’t having any success.

Year 1 we planted two pounds of seeds and got three tiny marbles… I’m not kidding, three marbles. They couldn’t even have been considered steelies, just regular marbles.

Year 2 we planted four pounds and got four pounds… I’m thinking to myself we would be better off eating our seeds…

Year 3 we planted four pounds and got, eight pounds. Wow, doubling our production is quite a bit more successful than what we’ve experienced, but still, I am losing money on this venture. We thought year three was our year, it finally looked like something was happening.

Each year we bought organic seed potatoes for obvious reasons. Each year we thought it would be our year. Each year our hopes were high and our returns low. So what were we doing wrong?

Let’s talk about Year 4. We planted eight pounds of seed and harvested 58 pounds of marvelous potatoes! Finally, success! The kinds of potatoes we grew included fingerlings, Yukon golds (my favorite) and the red potatoes.potatoes

What did we do differently?

  • I did some research into what types of potatoes grow best in our area. Those red waxy potatoes that most people eat as new potatoes are definitely the best growers here. I don’t really like them as well as I like some others, but I bought some for the kids to plant this year and they way out performed all the other potatoes. So if I want to grow a lot of potatoes in Oklahoma, I’m going to have to grow red potatoes.
  • We planted earlier. I had always heard everyone saying plant your potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day and harvest before the 4th of July. This year I had the kids plant the potatoes as soon as they arrived and were cut. We ordered our potatoes from Wood Prairie Farms. Click here to see their website.
  • Cut the potatoes. I had seen people talk about cutting the potatoes, but I was told you can cut them if you want or not cut them if you don’t want. I never cut ours because I didn’t want to wait longer to plant them. I don’t like waiting. Ooops, did I let out a secret about myself? Anyway, back to cutting potatoes. There is an energy line that runs down the center of each potato to all of the eyes. That line puts out the energy to grow potatoes. If you cut the line into four pieces, you get four times the energy for growth. It makes perfect sense!
  • We had a cooler beginning of spring. My friend Terri said potatoes don’t form or grow tubers after soil temps reach 75 degrees. I checked to see what Mother Earth News had to say about it and they say maximum tuber formation occurs with soil temps are between 60 and 70 degrees, so our weather this year had a lot to do with our success. Click here to read their potato growing tips. Thanks Terri for that really helpful tidbit!
  • Usually in Oklahoma it goes from freezing to 90 degrees in a matter of a week or two in spring. We don’t usually enjoy any spring like temperatures, but this year, we had two whole months of cooler days that weren’t frigidly cold. Our cool season crops enjoyed it immensely!

Here’s how we grew our amazing potatoes:

    1. Ordered our organic seed potatoes.potato seeds
    2. As soon as they arrived, I cut them into quarters and laid them out to dry.seed potatoes cut
    3. After about three days, we dug 6 inch trenches in our potato beds and the kids dropped potatoes in. I tried to even them out to about one every four inches, but when you’re working with a group of young kids, nothing is perfectly symmetrical.potato planting
    4. The kids covered the potatoes with soil.kids planting potatoesplanting potatoes with kids
    5. We would have watered, but we were getting rain every week, so we let God do the watering for our whole potato season. After about three weeks, the greens popped up through the ground and we watched our potatoes grow. We had lots of hope.
    6. After the potatoes flowered, we waited until the vines started to turn yellow and we dug one bed, and then a few weeks later dug the other two.potato plants growingpotat growthpotato growth, second bedpotato flower

Video by Ever Change Productions, check them out!

  1. We made sure not to get the potatoes wet. We just laid them out in a single layer (we used plastic tote lids because that’s what I could find). We covered them with a black sheet to make sure no light gets to them but air does. We ate a few, but are letting the rest cure. After about two weeks in a cool dry place, we will store them for eating later. They should be stored at about 40 degrees. The closest place I have to that is the refrigerator, so I will be storing ours in the fridge.potato harvestkids harvesting potatoeskids discovering potatoes in the gardenkids digging potatoesharvesting potatoeshappy girl with potatofingerling potatoes

I urge you to try growing your own potatoes. They taste amazing and you KNOW what is on them. You can also find different varieties than are available in our grocery stores, so it’s fun to explore the world of potato shapes, colors, and flavors. The kids learn so much from growing their own food. Potatoes are no exception. Also, remember, if you have a hard time with something the first time, don’t give up, sometimes the third time is the charm…or the fourth!button-newChristianFellowship_hopbutton

16 comments

  1. Abhijeet Suryawanshi says:

    I’ve tried growing potatoes twice, but both times the plants were attacked by red ants, they not only made plants to die but also ate many of the small potatoes undersoil. How can i save my plants from those ants next time i plant potatoes?

    • Hi Abhijeet, I don’t have any experience with red ants eating my plants. My garden is full of red ants, but they never bother the potatoes. I’m sorry, i’m not sure how to help you.

  2. katepickle says:

    I am not a good potato grower… I think because our soil is so hard and clay-ey but I am going to pin this for when the weather improves here and I can give them another go! thanks!

  3. Erin Blegen says:

    There’s no comparison between a homegrown and store bought potato- they are as crisp and juicy as apples!

    Over the years, I’ve tried every method of growing potatoes from towers to bags to straw…and always, the traditional hilling method produces the most by far. I dig a trench 12″ deep and space the seeds 12″ apart. Cover with 4-5″ soil. As it grows up the trench, continue to bury. Potatoes grow above the seed, so plenty of room for that growth is what you accomplish by continuing to hill up around the plant as it grows. Spacing your plants 12″ apart also gives the potatoes much more room to grow, resulting in larger potatoes :).

    Always something new to learn and share. I enjoyed your post! And the little ones are adorable 🙂

    Erin
    http://www.yellowbirchhobbyfarm.com

  4. Love love love growing potatoes because they are so easy. I also like to grow them every other year. Just something I do. I have no rhyme or reason behind it 🙂

  5. DaLynn McCoy says:

    We aren’t growing potatoes this year. We’re in a different house (again) and while we have plenty of yard space, there isn’t much GARDEN space, so we’re just doing a few things this year until we can figure out logistically where to put one. Great post! Thanks for linking up at Christian Fellowship Friday!

  6. Rene D says:

    Hi There!! I absolutely LOVE this post (pinning it to Pinterest!!) I grew potatoes once and it was the easiest thing I ever grew. All I did was put the potato eyes in the dirt and water it.. I will re-read this once I move to the farm so I can grow REALLY nice potatoes 🙂

  7. Terri Lowell says:

    That’s awesome! I’m so happy you got a good harvest.

  8. I remember helping my parents pull potatoes from the ground when I was a little girl. For the past several years, I have wanted to start growing some of our own vegetables, as my parents did when I was young, but just haven’t had the time or know-how. Maybe you can help me get started next spring!

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